Sewing Leather

Sewing With Leather - teflon foot

Sewing with Leather

Leather can be a tricky material to sew with and may take a bit of practice before you feel confident in using it.  If you using very lightweight leather (or vinyl) which is no more than 3oz (0.2g) then you won’t put to much strain on your home sewing machine and won’t require serious leather sewing tools.

It is also good to get a hold of some scraps so you can practice before starting on the real job. Remember there are no do-overs with leather ,because every stitch is a permanent hole!

When it comes to using faux versions again stick to the lightweight versions as they are easier to work with.  They perform very much like regular fabric and are surprisingly easy to work with. In either case, your sewing methods and techniques are a bit different. Not difficult, but different.

Sewing with Leather

The Pfaff  range of sewing machines have an walking foot built in to the machine (IDT)  that assists with holding the fabric firmly while the stitch is formed

Some general tips on sewing with leather or vinyl:

  • When purchasing, see if the shop has any leather scraps.  It could be much, much cheaper.
  • Hold your pattern piece down on the leather with some weights and use a metallic or grease pen to trace the pattern onto the leather.  Then follow the outline to cut.  If you tried to cut the leather the way you would another fabric, you’ll end up with a distorted piece.
  • Use a teflon presser foot – it glides over the leather and helps to keep your stitches even.
  • Use the specialized leather sewing machine needles – they are shaped differently than sharps so that they cut through the leather as you sew.
    Leather Sewing Machine Needle
  • Leather tape is your best friend.  It’s a double sided tape that you will be glad you have.  Get a width that will easily be hidden within your seam allowance.  I used 3/8″ because my seam allowance was 1/2″.  You can’t pin leather together before you sew, but if it’s not attached somehow it will move around and you’ll be unhappy with the results.  Taping the leather down before you sew works wonderfully.  Your needle may get gunked up a bit, but just buy extra needles in case you need to switch one out.
  • Slow and steady wins the race.  Go slow because you can only top stitch once.  Once the needle punctures the leather there’s no going back…  Well you can, but it won’t be pretty.
  • Practice on a scrap piece of leather first!


With these tips, you should be ready to go forth and sew with leather or vinyl!